While cherry blossoms have a special place in Japanese culture and the country remains one of the best places to enjoy hanami (flower viewing), here are nine other destinations around the world where you can also take in the colours of spring. Time your visit right as the flowers will be in bloom for mere weeks.
1. Paris, France – late February to March
The City of Light morphs into the City of Blossoms every spring, as the rows of cherry trees at the Parc du Champ de Mars blush pink. The flowers can also be found around the French capital’s parks and neighbourhoods.
2. Alishan, Taiwan – early March
Great for hikes, tea and hot springs, the mountainous township of Alishan in Taiwan is also a great place to view beautiful cherry blossoms every spring. The Jushan hiking trail is lined on both sides with flowering Yoshino cherry trees, while the upscale hotel Alishan House in the Alishan National Scenic Area is another popular location.
3. Shanghai, China – mid-March to mid-April
Cosmopolitan and cool, Shanghai gives in to the wonders of spring each year. If you don’t mind being shoulder to shoulder with other daytrippers, Gucun Forest Park offers some of the best views, but those who prefer to admire the scenery in peace should head to Lu Xun Park or Tongji University instead.
4. Tokyo, Japan – late March to early April
A must-go for hanami, Japan is awash with cherry blossoms come spring. Tokyo boasts a plethora of places for flower viewing, and the raucous drinking parties that accompany it, such as Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park and the banks of the Meguro River.
5. New York, USA — late March or early April to mid-May
In one of the world’s most well-known concrete jungles, Brooklyn Botanic Garden provides respite to some 42 different varieties of cherry trees. To usher in the blooming of cherry blossoms in 2018, the park in the Big Apple will again celebrate all things Japanese by holding the Sakura Matsuri on April 28 and 29, 2018.
6. Washington DC, USA – late March to mid-April
Bloom time comes to the capital of America around the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, and at Hains Point in East Potomac Park. The trees first took root in the capital in 1910 as a symbol of friendship between the USA and Japan; and now, the annual flowering is accompanied by the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which includes a kite festival, a parade and performances.
7. Seoul, South Korea – early April
If you’ve been to Japan for sakura season, it may be worth paying a visit to neighbouring South Korea instead, where the blooms are shorter but no less delightful. In Seoul, Yeouido Park is the most popular place for flower viewing, while the ancient architecture of Gyeongbokgung provides a lovely backdrop for the springtime spectacle.
8. Vancouver, Canada – early April
Since 2006, Vancouver has welcomed spring with the annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, which features a line-up of art performances, film screenings and the international Haiku Invitational. Not forgetting the picturesque sight of 40,000 sakura trees in bloom across the city.
9. Stockholm, Sweden – mid- to late April
The Scandinavian city of Stockholm is probably one of the last places you would expect to see cherry blossoms, but the sakura trees ringing the open plaza at the medieval Kungstradgarden park bloom in defiance every spring. The square teems with life when that happens as tourists and locals come to picnic and admire the flowers.
10. Curitiba, Brazil – July
The largest population of cherry blossom trees in South America is in Brazil, which is also home to the biggest population of ethnic Japanese outside Japan. In Curitiba city, south-west of Sao Paolo, trees at the Botanical Garden of Curitiba and the Japanese Garden bloom in July, giving tourists and locals an excuse to pause and soak in the sights.
– TEXT BY HANNAH KOH
PHOTOS: FILIP GIERLINSKI, THISBY KHURY, TOM PAGE, KAMAL ZHARIF KAMALUDIN, DEEPED NICLAS & AMANDA STRANDH, USODESITA, VANCOUVER CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL, 張婉君, WASHINGTON NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.